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10 Tips for Making Better Food Choices

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has come out with 10 strategies for making better food choices. Listed on the ChooseMyPlate.gov website, they include several great ideas.

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That said, I take exception to some of the suggestions, as they perpetuate decades-old fallacies that new science is showing to be wrong. In other words, the USDA’s food plate is a bit scrambled when it comes to science. Here’s my take on the 10 tips for making better food choices:

1. Find out what you need nutritionally — This is a good idea. For example, children have different caloric needs than senior citizens; high-endurance athletes have different needs too. Note: The USDA’s “SuperTracker” that the article recommends was discontinued in June 2018.

2. Enjoy your food but eat less — Indeed, most of us in the industrialized world eat too much, especially when it comes to processed foods and sugars. Research has linked growing waistlines to a number of different sources, including processed and high-fructose foods, sodas and high-carb diets. Switch these foods for whole foods and you feel fuller, but eat less in the long run.

3. Strengthen your bones — Strengthening your bones is a good idea but the USDA has it wrong on how to get there, with its recommendations to eat fat-free dairy and fortified soy “milk.” The no-fat myth has probably done more to harm people’s health than any other dietary recommendation. The truth is saturated fats from animal and vegetables provide the building blocks for cell membranes, as well as vitamins and minerals necessary for building strong bones. Choose healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil, organic whole-fat dairy products, raw nuts and organic pastured egg yolks. And add strength-training exercises to your daily routine to build up those bones.

4. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables — It’s true that choosing a plate full of fresh, raw, colorful foods is a healthy way to eat. But concentrate on the vegetables and limit the fruits, as they contain fructose, which can load you with too many carbs.

5. Drink water — Water should always be your beverage of choice. Just be sure that it’s filtered and not fluoridated. Don’t be fooled by “vitamin” waters — if you want to spark up your water, add a slice of lemon or lime or try sparkling spring water.

6. Eat whole grains more often — My personal belief is that we eat too many grains, and a lot of that is because of the choice of grains we make. Remember that even whole grains can raise your insulin and leptin levels, so even though it’s true that we need added fiber in our diet, the best choice is to opt for increasing our net carb vegetables rather than loading up on carb-packed rice and whole-grain pastas and breads.

7. Learn what is in your foods — This is probably one of the most important pieces of advice in this list. If you read labels you can see why fresh, whole, organically-grown fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat products are the choices you should be making.

8. Cut back on some foods — This is an excellent idea, especially if you vow to reduce, with the goal of eliminating all processed foods. Just because the label says “natural” or “wholesome” doesn’t mean it’s either. Processed foods are loaded with artificial flavors, added sugars and other nonfood ingredients, including added synthetic nutrients, in order to make them palatable and acceptable to you. Skip processed and sugary, carb-laden foods and opt for whole, organically grown foods instead.

9. Be a better cook — Unless you’re a trained chef with no new skills to learn, being a better cook can always help you prepare and enjoy the delights of whole, fresh foods. I have many easy-to-prepare, healthy recipes that you can try, from entrees to delicious desserts that will help you choose nutritious foods for your diet — and love every scrumptious bite, too.

10. Be active wherever you go — This is some of the best advice the USDA has to offer. If you feel you don’t have time for a set exercise program, or can’t afford a gym membership, GOOD NEWS! You don’t need either to add movement and activity to your day. If you work in an office job, just try to stand instead of sitting (for example, try setting your computer on a stack of books so you can stand to work). Take a walk for lunch, or march in place during commercials when you’re watching TV. One good, all-around exercise that I like is the Nitric Oxide Dump, which you can do anytime, anywhere, no matter what fitness level you’re at.

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